Sunday, November 20, 2011

Tomato Dumplings

 A couple of years ago when I started my part time catering, I wanted to come up with a name that really represented me.  After throwing names around for days, I finally came up the the perfect one.  Tomato Dumplings.  They are a perfect balance of fresh earthiness from the tomatoes, and warm hominess of the dumplings.
           My Grandmother Mckinney, was the sweetest, most loving grandmother anyone could ask for.  She was always laughing, and welcomed everyone with open arms.  And she was also, always cooking.  What a cook she was!  Grandmaw never used a recipe; everything she knew how to cook, she had
learned from her family growing up.  Macaroni and Cheese, green beans with potatoes, pork chops, and chicken -n-dumplins' were some of the best.  But when she would whip out a big steamy bowl of tomato dumplings, the world stopped.  They were like a great big hug for your mouth.  However, because she was Grandmaw, she did not have a recipe, and because I am me, I took it for granted and never took the time to talk to her about how she did it, when I had the chance.  So, in talking with my dad and my aunt, and doing some searches online, I think I have come up with a recipe that is CLOSE.  These definitely aren't quite hers, but nothing will be.   (The spices in this recipe definitely aren't what she used, but since I can't get hers exactly, I decided to add a little of my own touch)
            Interestingly enough, as I was searching online for recipes, I discovered that tomato dumplings are really an appalachian heritage dish.  Which would explain why I , being from the heart of Appalachia, was the only one in the greater Raleigh area who seemed to know what they were.  But even more interestingly, I read that tomato dumplings was originally an 18th century dish that had been passed down through the ages in the Appalachian region.
           Now this might be one of those recipes that, because I grew up with it, and it was made by my grandmaw, it's the best thing I have ever had, phenomenons.  But I think you should try it.  I made it on a really cold day, with a pork tenderloin and roasted carrots.  To me, there isn't anything more perfect.

Tomato Dumplings
          *In the summer months when tomatoes are fresh, my grandmother would chop fresh ones and        
            stew them herself.  But in the winter months, canned ones are a fine substitute

Tomato Dumplings
by Mary McKinney
Keywords: soup/stew comfort food
  • 2 28 ounce cans whole tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper
  • 1/4 tsp rubbed sage
  • For the Dumplings: (adapted from Classical Southern Cooking, by Damon Lee Fowler)
  •  cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon double-double acting Baking powder, or 2 tsp single-acting powder
  • salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • butter to finish
Puree the tomatoes in a blender for about 30 seconds or until mostly smooth.
Transfer to a large pot and add remaining ingredients. Simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, make the dumplings.
Sift together the flour, soda, baking powder, and a pinch of salt into a mixing bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender, (or 2 knives) until the flour resembles coarse cornmeal.
Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the buttermilk. Using a wooden spoon and as few strokes as possible, quickly stir the ingredients together.
Take the dough out onto a floured surface, flour it lightly, fold it in half, and pit it out flat. Do this 4-5 times. Pinch off 1-inch round pieces of dough and lay them to the side. When all of the dumplings have been formed, drop them one at a time into the simmering tomatoes. Cover, and continue to simmer over low heat for about 7 minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit, covered, for 10 minutes.
To serve, spoon several dumplings into a bowl and ladle the tomatoes over them. Finish each bowl with a small pat of butter.
To store leftovers, store dumplings in a separate container from the tomatoes.
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